created by Glenn Tamashiro

Hello and welcome. This site was developed to keep you informed about the various lessons and activities that are held in our Government/Economics and Honors Government/AP Macroeconomics classes.


HGov Research: Sick Around the World

Sick Around the World 1
Washington Post foreign correspondent T.R. Reid finds out how five capitalist democracies — the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland — deliver health care, and what the United States might learn from their successes and their failures.

The British system is socialized medicine because the government both provides and pays for health care. The British pay taxes for health care, and the government run National Health Service or NHS distributes those funds to health care providers. Hospital doctors are paid salaries while General Practitioners are paid based on the number of patients they see. A small number of specialists work outside the NHS and see private pay patients. Because the system is funded through taxes, administrative costs are low. There are no bills to collect or claims to review. Patients have a medical home with their General Practitioners, who also serves as a gatekeeper to the rest of the system. Patients must see their General Practitioners before going to a specialist. General Practitioners are paid a bonus for keeping their patients healthy and are instrumental in preventive care. Preventive care is an area in which Britain is a world leader.

The Japanese go to the doctor three times as often as Americans, have more than twice as many MRI scans, use more drugs, and spend more days in the hospital. Japan spends about half as much on health care per capita as the United States. Japan uses a social insurance system in which all citizens are required to have health insurance. The Japanese receive insurance either through their work or purchased from a community based plan. Those individuals who cannot afford the premiums receive public assistance. Most health insurance is private and cannot turn down a patient for a pre-existing illness, nor are they allowed to make a profit. Doctors and almost all hospitals are in the private sector. In Japan there are no gatekeepers. Having no gatekeepers means there’s no check on how often the Japanese use health care. The Japanese can go to any specialist when and as often as they like. Every two years the Ministry of Health negotiates with physicians to set the price for every procedure. This helps keeps costs down.  Japan has been so successful at keeping costs down that Japan now spends too little on health care. The result is half of the hospitals in Japan are operating in the red.

Germany, like Japan, uses a social insurance model. But unlike the Japanese, who get insurance from work or are assigned to a community fund, Germans are free to buy their insurance from one of more than 240 private, nonprofit sickness funds. For its 80 million people, Germany offers universal health care, including medical, dental, mental health, homeopathy and spa treatment. As in Japan, the poor receive public assistance to pay their premiums. Sickness funds are nonprofit and cannot deny coverage based on preexisting conditions; they compete with each other for members, and fund managers are paid based on the size of their enrollments. Germans can go straight to a specialist without first seeing a gatekeeper doctor, but they pay higher co-pay if they do. Like Japan, Germany is a single-payment system and medical providers must charge standard prices, but instead of the government negotiating the prices, the sickness funds bargain with doctors as a group. This keeps costs down, but it also means physicians in Germany earn between half and two-thirds as much as their U.S. counterparts. This system leaves some German doctors feeling underpaid. A family doctor in Germany makes about two-thirds as much as he or she would in America. However, German doctors pay much less for malpractice insurance, and many attend medical school for free. Germany also lets the richest 10 percent opt out of the sickness funds in favor of U.S.-style for-profit insurance. These patients are generally seen more quickly by doctors, because the for-profit insurers pay doctors more than the sickness funds.

In the 1990s, Taiwan researched many health care systems before settling on one where the government collects the money and pays providers. But the delivery of health care is left to the market. Taiwan adopted a National Health Insurance model in 1995 after studying other countries’ systems. Like Japan and Germany, all citizens must have insurance, but there is only one government-run insurer. Working people pay premiums split with their employers; others pay flat rates with government help; and some groups, like the poor and veterans, are fully subsidized. The resulting system is similar to Canada’s and the U.S. Medicare program. Taiwan’s new health system extended insurance to the 40 percent of the population that lacked it while actually decreasing the growth of health care spending. The Taiwanese can see any doctor without a referral. Every citizen in Taiwan has a smart card, which is used to store his or her relevant health information, medical history and bills the national insurer automatically. The system also helps public health officials monitor standards and effect policy changes nationwide. Thanks to this use of technology and the country’s single insurer, Taiwan’s health care system has the lowest administrative costs in the world. But the Taiwanese are spending too little to sustain their health care system and the government is borrowing from banks to pay what there isn’t enough to pay the providers. The problem is compounded by politics, because it is up to Taiwan’s parliament to approve an increase in insurance premiums, which it has only done once since the program was enacted.


Econ: More Graphing Supply Demand and Equilibrium

Chage in SUpply Demand and Equilibrium

Graphing supply and demand, changes in quantity supplied and quantity demanded, changes in supply (STORES) and demand (TOESIS), and changes in equilibrium price and quantity.

6.6 How Does Government Intervention Affect Markets (read pp.112-115)


HGov Research: Sick Around America

More than 2.5 million Americans lost their jobs last year, and along with their livelihood, their health insurance. As the economy continues to spiral, the new administration promises to deliver comprehensive health care reform. Sick Around America lays bare the flaws in our system and examines the critical choices Americans face in changing a system that all sides agree needs a fundamental overhaul.

Chapter 1: We Were Incredibly Lucky 
Mark Murray’s family medical crisis was fully covered by the health plan provided by employer Microsoft. Millions of others aren’t so fortunate.

Chapter 2: Stories of a Broken System 
Medical bills bankrupt some. Others lose health coverage just when they need it most. And some people must seek jobs just for the health benefits.

Chapter 3: More Pitfalls 
Unlike many large employers’ coverage, consumer-bought plans can be inadequate, unaffordable. Even worse, a policy suddenly can be rescinded.


Econ: Graphing Supply Demand and Equilibrium

Graphing supply and demand, changes in quantity supplied and quantity demanded, changes in supply (STORES) and demand (TOESIS), and changes in equilibrium price and quantity.

6.4 How Do Shifts in Demand or Supply Affect Markets (read pp.105-108)
6.5 What Roles Do Prices Play in a Modern Mixed Economy (read pp.108-111)


HGov: Current Events

current events11



Period 4: Presidential Debate 2

Period 7: Presidential Debate Purpose



Econ: Graphing Change in Supply or Demand and Equilibrium

A market moves to a new equilibrium when there is a shift in either supply (STORES) or demand (TOESIS) which changes the equilibrium price and quantity.

  • Demand increases = price increases and quantity increases
  • Demand decreases = price decreases and quantity decreases
  • Supply increases = price decreases and quantity increases
  • Supply decreases = price increases and quantity decreases

6.4 How Do Shifts in Demand or Supply Affect Markets (read pp.105-108)


HGov: Campaigns and Elections


In most states, the road to nomination in partisan races is the primary election. But some states use a different method, the party caucus.

A caucus is a closed meeting of people from one political party who will select candidates or delegates. In a caucus state, small groups of party members meet in their communities to discuss the various candidates. Each caucus then chooses delegates to represent its views at the party’s state convention. Approximately a dozen states hold caucuses. The best known are the Iowa caucuses, which take place early in presidential election years. The Iowa caucuses are watched closely, because they provide the first indications of how well each candidate is doing at winning the support of average voters.

To prepare for caucuses and primaries, candidates must develop a campaign strategy. If this plan of action works well and the candidate wins the nomination, some of that strategy may carry over to the general election. Key elements of a strategy include tone, theme, and targeting.

Candidates must decide whether to adopt a positive or a negative tone for their campaigns. This means determining how much time and money to spend stressing the positive things about their candidacy and how much to spend criticizing their opponents.

Every candidate needs a theme. A simple, appealing idea that gets repeated over and over. A theme helps distinguish a candidate from his or her opponents in the primaries. It is also critical in the general election, when candidates from different parties compete.

Candidates must also decide whether to target specific groups of voters. Is there any group: blue-collar workers, women, the middle class, or the elderly, that is particularly unhappy with the status quo? If so, that group is a likely target for specially designed appeals from the candidates.

Another aspect of campaign strategy is how to present the candidate’s political views during the primaries as opposed to during the general election. For the primaries, candidates tend to craft their message in terms that will appeal to the party base. The party base consists of party activists, who are more likely to vote in primary elections than are less-committed centrists. This base also holds more extreme views than the average middle-of-the-road voter. As a result, candidates often emphasize more liberal or conservative views in the primaries than they would in a general election campaign.

Candidates for public office try to reach voters in various ways, both during the primaries and in the run-up to the general election. There are three general approaches: retail politics, wholesale politics, and microtargeting.

Retail politics is a meet-and-greet style of campaigning that relies on direct, personal contact with voters. Candidates take part in parades, dinners, and other local events. During these face-to-face encounters with voters, candidates try to present themselves as leaders who are in touch with ordinary people.

Wholesale politics communicates with voters that can be reached only by large-scale mail or media campaigns. Candidates may develop direct-mail campaigns, in which thousands of letters are sent to voters asking for their support. Even more common is the use of both paid and free media. Candidates and their staff prepare television ads and take part in televised town hall meetings and debates. These broadcasts can reach millions of people at a time. The Internet is also being used to reach voters on a large scale.

Microtargeting is a campaign approach that uses databases to target narrow groups of voters and then reach them with carefully crafted messages. Candidates who adopt this technique use the latest data-mining technology to gather information about voters. Armed with that data, they churn out custom-tailored messages designed to herd supporters to the polls. These messages present the candidate’s position on issues of importance to each targeted group.

 Before the presidential election, the Democratic and Republican parties each hold a national convention. Historically, party conventions are a critical step in the nomination process. Party delegates would argue over the candidates, sometimes going through several ballots before picking a nominee. Occasionally, an underdog would emerge from the pack to challenge, and even overtake, the leading candidate. Today, presidential nominees are chosen through the primary and caucus process. The winner then announces his or her choice for vice president. As a result, the national convention has evolved into a ritual to formally announce the party nominees and present them to the nation. The nominees also work with party leaders to frame a platform, laying out the party’s position on major issues. Additionally, the convention helps unite the party and excite the party base.

8.3 Candidate-Centered Campaign (read pp.264-272)